Here she talks about her experience and knowledge around this topic.
Stress is a much-used word. It blazes at us from news articles, jumps out from Insta posts and appears in wellbeing themed magazine articles. Friends, colleagues and clients talk about feeling stressed and doctors write this very familiar word on sick notes. Employers, or at least good ones, have workplace wellbeing policies which are at least partly designed to reduce employee stress levels.
But what does stress mean to you?
Like so many other emotional and physical health conditions, stress does not affect everyone in the same way. The Mental Health Foundation describe stress as,
“…our body’s response to pressure. Many different situations or life events can cause stress. It is often triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self, or when we feel we have little control over a situation.” (2021)
You can probably relate to this description, which does not use medical jargon but reassures us that stress is actually pretty normal. ‘Stress’ is not actually a diagnosable medical condition in the UK, although GPs often rightly cite ‘stress’ on sick notes as the reason why someone needs time off work. As the above definition suggests, stress is a normal reaction to certain situations. However stress-triggers vary widely between different people, as do our coping abilities.
As unique individuals with differing life experiences how we each respond to stress depends on a variety of factors. These include our previous experiences of coping with stress and how many stressful events we are trying to cope with at once. What support we can access is also a crucial factor in how well we cope with, and recover from, stressful times.
I am a huge advocate of professional talking therapy which I have found extremely useful at times, but counseling and similar is not always needed. More easily accessible support is also incredibly important and should be woven into everyday life as much as possible. Once again, stress management tools differ between us. Many people find baking therapeutic, but that doesn’t work for me, probably because I don’t really like cakes! For me, riding my bike, swimming and yoga are important stress-coping tools, but equally important is chatting with friends. I’ve just had a very happy weekend going climbing with my cousin, gardening, and dancing around my kitchen until the small hours with close friends. It was the most stress-relieving weekend I’ve had for ages, and not a therapist in sight!
Of course, as an aromatherapist I also have many small bottles of stress relief at my fingertips. Stress relieving aromas and essential oils are not the same for everyone, despite what some books and websites say. It can take time to discover which essential oil, or combination of oils, is the most effective for you. So, experiment! Close your eyes and gently inhale a few different essential oils and really note how each makes you feel. The aromas which make you feel alert or indulged may be very different to the ones which help you feel calm and grounded. You might find that you need different essential oils to support you through different stressful situations. Essential oils each have a unique personality and just like with human friends, you may find yourself calling on different oils to lend you a supportive arm in different situations.
If you are a professional aromatherapist and would like to learn more about stress, anxiety, depression and ways of harnessing essential oils to support your clients and/or yourself then I’m facilitating a CPD day in Brighton on Saturday 18th June. Click HERE for details. It would be lovely to see you there!
In the meantime, I’ve got a potentially stress-inducing few days ahead, which means I’ll probably be reaching for my bottles of Black Spruce –Picea mariana and Lemon – Citrus limonum very soon.
For helpful information about stress and other mental health challenges visit MIND, Rethink Mental Illness and the Mental Health Foundation. To find talking therapy ask your GP for details about your local IAPT service (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), details should also be on your local authority’s website. To find a private therapist try BACP.
Emma Charlton – Earthflower Therapies